Thursday, August 30, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor Preview

That faint noise you hear off in the distance is the early buzz of brand new Battlestar Galactica that’s off in the horizon but getting slowly closer.

BSG fans—such as FanBoyWonder—have spent lo these many months chewing on the implications of the four new Cylons who revealed to be some of the most trusted members of the crew, as well as the “resurrection” of Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) at the end of the Season 3 finale in late March.

Look for those questions to remain unresolved until the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica picks up in January 2008.

However, the buzz you are just now starting to hear is Team Battlestar’s creative way to maintain the mystery of the Season 3 cliffhanger through the remainder of this year while at the same time giving fans and potential new viewers a bonus, stand-alone BSG mega-movie episode in the form of Battlestar Galactica: Razor.

Look for BSG: Razor to first air on the Sci-Fi Channel on Saturday, Nov. 24, as a 2-hour tele-movie, with the unrated, extended edition DVD to go on sale on Dec. 4—just in time for the holidays.

Here’s the upshot from Sci-Fi and Universal Studios Home Entertainment: Battlestar Galactica: Razor takes you on an edge-of-your-seat adventure with an epic untold story of Lieutenant Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen) and the other Battlestar, Pegasus. Battlestar Galactica: Razor tells the story of Lee Adama's (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and reveals the story of how Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies.

During the summer, we had occasion to view the DVDs of BSG Season 2.5, which included an extended cut of the Pegasus episode—scenes that needed to be cut to bring this originally near-90 minute episode down to one-hour for broadcast.

Extended Pegasus plus Resurrection Ship Parts 1 & 2 left us really wanting to know more about Admiral Cain and about the Pegasus crew before they encountered Galactica.

Razor promises to fulfill that wish and then some. In addition to telling “The Other Story of Survival” of how Pegasus endured and survived the original Cylon sneak-attack on the colonies, the movie purports to show us more of Lee Adama’s first days of command.

Better yet, we reportedly get to see a glimpse of a young William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the original Cylon war, complete with the Cylon Centurions from the original BSG. Frakin-A!

While we accepted the inevitability of her death, we still found it unfortunate when Admiral Cain was murdered (so soon) at the end of Resurrection Ship P. 2 by a version of the Cylon Number Six named Gina (Tricia Helfer).

Michelle Forbes gave a fascinating portrayal of Admiral Cain as the hard-charging character who butts heads with Adama almost from the start because she always seemed to be technically correct but unbending to a fault—as well as untrustworthy and utterly ruthless.

Pegasus represents the path not taken by Galactica—as the crew, starting with Cain, who did so many horribly wrong things for seemingly the right reasons.

It’s quite hard to find sympathy for a character who we learn poached off fleeing civilians then abandoned and in some cases executed uncooperative civilians in the early days of the Cylon holocaust, as well as someone who ordered the “interrogation” (read: ritualized torture and rape) of the Cylon Gina. Yet, despite all this, Forbes made us feel for Cain.

MINOR SPOILER, MAJOR DIFFERNECE: We’ve learned that it will be revealed that Cain and Gina were in fact lovers before Gina’s Cylon origin was discovered.

With this revelation, it dramatically changes our view of Cain and her treatment of the Cylon prisoner. Was she a heartless military leader or a betrayed and scorned lover or both when Cain ordered the torture of someone who was (literally) a sleeper enemy agent??

BSG Razor, promises to be more than just a flashback as it lays the ground for the new season with the retroactive-introduction of a new character—Kendra Shaw. The word we’ve heard (taken with a grain of salt) is that Kendra was a politically connected officer who was posted on Pegasus for what was supposed to be a ticket-punching cruise—until the Cylons came and Kendra is forced to (and may indeed fail) to cowboy up.

It’s apparent from the preview clips we’ve seen that Kendra held in contempt by Starbuck. Speaking of Starbuck, thanks to Razor and the wonders of the flashback story, we’ll be able to see the Kara Thrace we all knew and loved, before her head got so fraked up by the Cylon Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie) on New Caprica and before her “death.”

In advance of Razor, Sci-Fi will reportedly roll a series of webisodes several weeks before the Nov. 24 airdate, much like what they did last year with Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance to fill in some of the gaps between Seasons 2 and 3. We look forward to that.

Finally, in the ultimate in viewer participation, Sci-Fi is giving fans the chance to vote on their favorite DVD packaging of the Battlestar Galactica: Razor Unrated Extended Edition, which scheduled for a Dec. 4 release.

The website will display a selection of three choices for fans (see the picture above) to cast their votes between now and continuing to 12 AM midnight Pacific Standard Time on September 7. The final selection will be posted on the site on September 14.

Choose wisely. So say we all!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Respect Their Authorita—South Park Gets 3 More Seasons

While Tom Cruise, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Paris Hilton and alleged psychic friend John Edward may not be jumping for joy at the news, the rest of the uncivilized world—including FanBoyWonder—are stoked to hear that South Park has been renewed for three more seasons.

Comedy Central announced today that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the network have agreed to a three-season extension of the topical, funny but oh so naughty cartoon.

FanBoyWonder extends a special thanks to our day-job colleague Mike “X” for alerting us to this news.

As part of the agreement, Parker and Stone will produce an additional three seasons—14 episodes per season—of the Emmy® and Peabody® Award-winning South Park, taking the series beyond its current deal, which was set to expire at the end of 2008, to keep new episodes of the show on Comedy Central through 2011.

The show is currently in its 11th season.

Parker and Stone will continue to write, direct and edit every episode of "South Park," as they have since the premiere of the series in August 1997, according to the meticulously sanitized corporate press release.

"Three more years of 'South Park' will give us the opportunity to offend that many more people,” said Stone in a statement. “And since Trey and I are in charge of the digital side of 'South Park,' we can offend people on their cell phones, game consoles, and computers too. It's all very exciting for us."

A big part of the deal calls for Comedy Central to create South Park Digital Studios. The strategic alliance includes the formation of a digital animation studio at "South Park" headquarters in Los Angeles that will serve as the new home for all digital extensions of the South Park franchise as well as an incubator for new animated projects.

In monetary terms, the deal is reportedly worth up to $75 million. “Oh Hamburgers!”

In other words, Matt and Trey aren’t just doing it for the money. They’re doing it for a S**T-load of money!!!!

Look for new episodes of "South Park" to begin on Wednesday, October 3 at 10:00 p.m. EST—check your local listings.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

One Reader's Broken Trust: Do or Die Time for DC Comics’ Dan Didio

Last night, FanBoyWonder and Mrs. FBW spent an hour of our lives watching what promised to be a funny, if filthy, 60 minutes of stand up comedy on HBO—Bob Saget’s That Ain’t Right.

FBW remembers Saget way back before he did Full House and that video show—his act was blue but it was funny. Last night, we watched a “comic” with Turrets Syndrome spit out dirty words in some kind of diarrhea of the mouth rant without much point or purpose—at least to us the viewing audience.

But just as we were about to change the channel, he would come out with something occasionally laugh out loud funny or at least amusing enough to keep us watching until the full hour had passed but the bottom line is that Saget found himself far more entertaining than we did.

For us, that’s just how we feel about DC Comics’ Countdown. It’s our natural inclination to stick with something once we start watching/reading/purchasing it but just as the hodgepodge of words and action without any real purpose appears to drive us to drop Countdown, something happens (usually with the Mary Marvel story arc) that’s compelling enough to keep us hanging on—at $2.99 a week.

Countdown is purported to be the lynchpin of the DC Universe for the next year until the recently announced Final Crisis. Yet another Crisis. “Crisis” is indeed the word as from this fan’s perspective--The state of Dan Didio’s DC Comics is in Crisis.

We are personally uncomfortable in making this essay regarding the woes of DC Comics about one individual--an individual that we don’t know and have never met—because inevitably in this context, criticism of professional conduct becomes personal.

Yet that becomes all but unavoidable as Dan Didio has sought to position himself as THE face of DC Comics, much the same way that Joe Quesada has for Marvel Comicsboth of them seeking to emulate the style of legendary (and infamous depending on who you ask) Stan Lee.

Dan Didio’s DC Comics has become a place where quantity and “style” have trumped quality and substance. The reader is not respected. Indeed, the reader is no longer even the primary audience as it seems more and more apparent to us that the writers are writing to amuse themselves and their peers more than anything else.

Hence you have the recent trend of importing “name” writers—Brad Metzler, Jodi Picoult, Allen Heinberg. DC’s preoccupation over WHO is telling the story rather than WHAT the story is about is just plain bassackwards.

The DC Universe today under Didio is a Seinfeld universe—it’s about nothing. With the numerous and sundry events and crossovers, it’s only real purpose seem to be draining the cash from the wallets of aging fanboys (and some fangirls—not that DC or mainstream comics in general are killing themselves to attract or retain young readers, male or female.)

We started Countdown with a feeling of cautious optimism despite the unfulfilled promise of 52, despite the bitter disappointment of Infinite Crisis and despite a growing feeling that the DC Universe we’ve known and loved for some three decades was slowing slipping away.

To ask where DC lost its way is a loaded question. But we cite the point where we started to lose faith was following Infinite Crisis. IC was an event in search of a story.

Even more disappointing because in our eyes, DC had done such a masterful job of building up reader anticipation for the “event.” Starting with Identity Crisis and then the one shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, DC planted the seed of a troubled universe.

No we weren’t crazy about an evil mastermind Maxwell Lord or a lynch-mob Justice League mind-wiping foe or friend alike or that Batman had become such a serious paranoid Pr**k. We were appalled that Batman allowed Ted Kord to die but we accepted it all because of the promise of such a big payout….of resolution.

Post Infinite Crisis, these issues were supposed to be resolved One Year Later. But there was no resolution. It was just ignored. In the Didio DC Universe, there is only set up, never a resolution at least “not yet”—Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown and now Final Crisis.

As we write this, we realize that we are expending an awful lot of thought and energy for what is supposed to be entertainment and storytelling.

So here’s the bottom line: All we’ve heard for however long now is “trust us” but that’s done. Dan…we’re voting with our wallet now….if you want our $2.99, you’re gonna have to earn it…one issue, one story at a time.

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